Maren O. Mitchell, Black Cow

Maren O. Mitchell

On the snaking country road October clouds
block moon and star light while we drive

to the poetry reading. Black and depthless
as a black hole, unexpected as mortality,

yet a comical cookie cutter shape—the black cow,
if she’d been in our lane, could have changed

our lives and hers. She is not. She grazes the green
shoulder, a contented, guilt-free escapee—

a menace to oncoming traffic. We slow, flashing.
Ahead, like a huge flightless metal insect,

a truck responds in kind. The night’s real surprise
comes when eleven-year-old Donovan Scott,

composed, reads his poems to the audience gathered
to hear adult poets: his last poem an unveiling,

I used to be lost… / Now I am a poet, found
in the ashes. Silently I exult, Yes! Yes! You are

found! Afterwards, I tell him, I am found
with each poem I write. The night’s real fear

arrives when I learn his parents, not present,
do not treasure his discovery. Because control

is an illusion, as we near home, I am warmed
by our current safety, our shared treasures.

Author’s Comment: This night was special to me, illuminating all I have, down to life itself, while also letting me witness to the birth of a very young poet.

Bio: Maren O. Mitchell’s poems have appeared in Hotel Amerika, Chiron Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, Appalachian Heritage, The South Carolina Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Classical Outlook, Appalachian Journal, The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, anthologies and elsewhere. Work is forthcoming in Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, Poem, and The Crafty Poet II. Mitchell’s nonfiction is Beat Chronic Pain, An Insider’s Guide (Line of Sight Press, 2012). She lives with her husband in the mountains of north Georgia.

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